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I'm using Ubuntu 11.04. Today I suddenly started to get "low disk space" warnings. When I checked, I saw that free space on my Ubuntu partition is decreased like 2 or 3 gigabytes. I didn't install anything recently and I don't keep my files in my Ubuntu partition.

What could be the reason for this?

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Did you do anything out of the ordinary before this started to happen? – N.N. Aug 15 '11 at 21:37
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I found this to be a problem for me caused by log files building up.

logrotate is run as part of cron.daily which by default runs at 6:25 which is quite possible that your machine is never on at this time.

So I would start by checking /var/log disk usage.

If it is that, you can fix it by editing /etc/crontab and changing it to run cron.daily at 9:25 instead (or a time you know your machine is often on).

There is an application called "Disk Usage Analyser" installed by default. Use that on the whole filesystem.

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"logrotate is run as part of cron.daily which by default runs at 6:25" - I think this is not true on a standard Ubuntu installation as it uses anacron to run cron scripts. – arrange Aug 15 '11 at 21:32
You are right it does. And as I understand it if the machine is off when a cron job was due to run, it will run it later. However I found that log files were not being rotated. This may be to the usage of this system which was on a 4GB USB stick used for short periods (<10mins) at a time. I would delete this answer if wrong but think it may help someone who experiences the same issue I had. I'll leave it posted for now until I get time to investigate. – Richard Holloway Aug 15 '11 at 22:03
Thanks for your answer, but after a while when I checked, it was OK, I don't know how, but my free space came back. – mAt Aug 17 '11 at 12:11

It could be a number of things (internet caches, caches for other files, a runaway process storing data, etc.).

You can install Baobab (if it's not already installed) and use it to find out where most of your disk space is being used up.

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Press ctrl + h to show all your hidden folders. Look for .Trash1000. If such a folder exists, clear the files in it to get some space. You can also try clearing your trash and ~/.local/share/trash

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Most likely, a buggy program started spamming error messages to stdout/stderr. These get logged to ~/.xsession-errors and ~/.xsession-errors.old, which can quickly fill several gigabytes of space Bug 60448.

A temporary fix is to truncate the file, by running > ~/.xsession-errors and > ~/.xsession-errors.old. (Deleting won't work, since the file is kept open.)

See also How do I prevent .xsession-errors from eating disk space?.

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